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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    New question here. First race advice needed - Breckenridge Fall Classic

    I'm signed up for the big loop in the Breck Fall Classic this weekend (~30 miles, 5,000'). Not having done something like this before, and not being familiar with the trails, I was hoping to get some tips/advice from the group here. Some pretty basic questions:

    • Do most people rely on aid stations to refill water or do they carry all the water they need for the full race? Do racers typically stage their own food/water at the aid stations? The race website doesn't have much info on this topic.
    • The route description sounds pretty complicated/detailed. Are racers expected to navigate this themselves or are long courses like this typically pretty well marked?
    • I'm a little nervous racing in the expert group, but it was the only option if you wanted to do the big loop. Any major race etiquette rules that might not be obvious to a newb?
    • Any other suggestions would be welcome, especially if you've done this race before.


  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Joe Handlebar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    So, I've never done this particular race, but I did just do the Oskar Blues Gold Rush two weekends ago. It's similar in mileage and elevation (33miles 4300 vert ft. elevation gain). Really, you should make a very educated estimate (be generous) on how much water/food you'll need to get to the aid station. Then add a little more in case the aid stations suck, because sometimes they do. Check forecasted weather for temps/rain etc... If you generally drink a whole bottle an hour, and you estimate 12 mph (for conversations sake), and it's 15 miles to the first station, I'd opt to make sure I had two full bottles, just in case. It's easy to over estimate your speed. If you know you need at least one gel (or whatever you use) every 45 minutes, plan on how many to carry based on the former.

    Your experience may even be that one station was great and another one was horrible (I've had this happen...I actually rolled up to an aid station once and they were blasting music so loud it was literally painful. And they...and I'm not kidding....had bread and water. Fortunately, I have an amazing wife who parked just down from that station with food and water.....and I was on my way). Anyway....I digress. I've only seen riders stage in endurance/ultra stuff, and only when it's allowed in the rules.

    Courses are GENERALLY pretty well marked, BUT you really have to pay attention. If you can get mileage points, print it out and tape it to your top tube or stem and check your mileage for upcoming turns, etc...

    As far as etiquette goes, if you're getting hammered, keep moving forward, but don't impede so much you're putting other riders in danger. If your goal is to finish and have a great time, who cares if someone passes you. If you're in contention, faster riders can pass you in safe areas.

    Have a great time, I'll be riding around Frisco that weekend myself! Good luck!
    The member formerly known as Redtires....

  3. #3
    Elitest thrill junkie
    Reputation: Jayem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    That's a fairly medium-sized race for me. A bit short on the miles, but a decent amount of vert. Most of the fast racers will push on through all aid stations, they will take a couple water bottles on their bikes, maybe one with energy-mix and rarely, a small camelback, a few gus, and they'll be set. These guys are efficient and they don't need as much water or fuel as the riders behind. Now, every once in a blue moon, being better-fueled and prepared, you might be able to catch one of the fast experts when your performance doesn't drop off as drastically. For most people that are not the elite experts, they need to bring more water and more fuel. Fuel is somewhat just a function of time, not quite as dependent on output, as everyone is going to be outputting near the max, but if you take longer, you'll spend more time and require more fuel. Most energy mix/gu/blocks, etc., recommend every 30-45 min to replenish the glucose. It doesn't mean downing the whole gel/bar/bunch of gummies, but keep that fuel coming gradually/constantly and it'll help immensely. Then there are fluids. Water is very effective. After years drinking, I stopped and it honestly felt like my body was much more efficient without all that HFCS. Electrolyte mixes and salt tabs can be helpful, but what I'm getting towards is "what does the aid station have?". Do you know if it has what you need? Is it a bunch of gatorade and pepsi? Sometimes there are lots of "goodies", even bacon and beer, for people that are riding the race for fun. It's not necessarily a fully-stocked race-support center, and even then, the best way to usually be doing this stuff is gradually, as you ride, not one big calorie download at once. I've only done one 100 miler, and I plan to do more, but when you start getting to the bigger distances the aid stations make a lot more sense, in terms of refueling up, getting more water, getting some food and putting more on your bike, etc. I staged water for the 100 miler. At the longer distances, if you want to go fast, it is going to be significantly harder to carry all that stuff.

    It's funny how races can be so radically different. We did 3 races two weekends ago as part of our end-of-season culmination. First race was one lap around the local fun flow-trail, which took just over 20 minutes for the fastest of us. That race was get rid of every bit of extra weight on the bike, no water, no tools, no tubes, etc. If you broke down, you could walk out easy, so maximize light weight. The next race was a short-track and I took a very small camelback, but didn't use it. I didn't do quite as well on that one. The last race was a decent sized XC, although with brutal climbing for the distance involved, so it was full on as far as taking down liquids and keeping the glucose up. No aid stations, but the laps were fairly short (even though the vertical was decent). I feel one of the reasons I did so well was I kept myself fueled. When a guy that was close in ability pulled on me during the 2nd lap, I had enough reserve energy to pull away, keep the lead, and eventually make it longer, but he was right on my butt for the entire 3rd lap. Even though it was only approx 1.5hrs of racing, if I didn't keep downing something (small in this case) for energy every lap, I'm sure I would have run out of gas and wouldn't have been able to keep the same output.

    So it kind of depends on what you want to do and there is definitely a balance. Stopping at an aid station takes time and that time can quickly span into several minutes. Remember, it's an "aid" station. Do you need aid, or is that for the people bonking trying to complete the race? Very situationally dependent IMO.

    Another perspective would be, if you are doing this recreationally to gain a bit of experience and not so much to make a certain time cutoff or beat a previous time, why not use the aid station? It won't hurt.

    Except for the 100 miler, I haven't used any aid station, on races from 10 to 60 miles. I see them more for the recreational riders and for emergency-use if for some reason I bonk/cramp. Much of the time, they don't fit my needs or I can't count on them having what I really want/need. If you are riding against riders that have similar abilities, seconds count AND you need to stay on top of your nutrition.

    A lot of the race starts with the prep in terms of your excising the days before, your eating patterns before, etc.

    As far as how courses are marked, it just depends on the race. Some races are more "adventure/primitive" orientated and expect the racers to find their way. Ones that have more support, generally ones with larger entry numbers, are usually better marked and supported. It's obviously a good idea if you can pre-ride a course, but doing that right before is logistically difficult sometimes.

    As far as what to expect during the race, probably a lot of passing for the first few miles or so, then very little and for much of the race, you may be on your own or at least there'll be significantly less people around and in sight.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Great info, thanks folks. I'll plan to mostly self-sufficient water-wise, and maybe top off a bottle at an aid station if it's hot and I'm low. I'll also try to mentally map out the course online ahead of time (it won't be practical for me to ride it). Should be interesting!

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Do what you would normally do before a hard ride of that size and have fun. Stick to your normal food, hydration and prep, and stop drinking the week before. Use an electrolyte blend that wont upset your stomach. Do not ride on just water!

    I tend to carry my diluted sport drink with me, or exactly the amount I will need to get to the station.

    I assume this is a mass start. If so, I would make an attempt to start strong and taper so you do not get stuck behind poorly skilled racers who are falling left and right. It happens. I have made this mistake in my Marathon/half marathon races and it has cost me a lot of time and required significant patience. People falling in front of you can may force you to dab and cramp, so I feel this is an issue worth pointing out.

    Take something with you for cramping, mustard, pickle juice, etc. Breathe into the cramp and "will" them to go away

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